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The importance of being Ernie

What drives Howie Carr’s anonymous tormentor?
By ADAM REILLY  |  October 19, 2009

Media feuds don’t come any nastier than the metastasizing spat between Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr and one “Ernie Boch III,” the pseudonymous blogger at the liberal Web site Blue Mass. Group, whose moniker references the Greater Boston car-dealership empire created by the late Ernie Boch, and now run by his son, Ernie Jr. (Note: the blogger is no relation to the car dealer.)

The brouhaha started on September 28, when EB3 wrote a post calling for a boycott of Carr’s show on WRKO-AM. The reason? A Carr column that linked Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly to the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal. (This followed Connolly’s decision to dismiss a challenge, mounted by the Mass. GOP, that would have kept Governor Deval Patrick from appointing Paul Kirk as an “emergency” replacement for the late US Senator Ted Kennedy.) After noting that Connolly graduated from St. John’s Seminary in Brighton in 1964 and did post-graduate work there in 1965, Carr added: “Most of the worst pervert priests in the archdiocese attended St. John’s during those same years.” Later, he knocked Connolly for not recusing himself from a case involving an abuse-enabling priest.

Objecting to Carr’s insinuation, and to an accompanying jibe at a Connolly ruling on same-sex marriage, EB3 busted out the heavy rhetorical artillery, accusing Carr of “journalistic man on man rape.” After urging readers to pressure Carr’s advertisers, EB3 closed with some sharp parting shots — including speculation that Carr was bullied at Deerfield Academy, his tony prep-school alma mater.

It gets better. On October 1, the Herald’s “Inside Track” column revealed that some of Carr’s sponsors were getting irate calls, and that at least one advertiser thought EB3 actually was Ernie Boch Jr. On October 2, in a taunting column that doubled as the Herald’s cover story, Carr struck back, mocking EB3 as a “moonbat” who can’t spell, has a trust fund, and takes Halcion, the powerful anti-insomnia medication (which, ironically, he spelled “Halcyon”).

The next day, the Herald reported that Boch Jr. had offered a $2000 reward for EB3’s real identity, promising he’d provide it to Carr so the latter could “terrorize [EB3] every afternoon.” Then, on October 4, Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi weighed in, ripping Carr’s shtick but also criticizing EB3’s anonymity. EB3 was quoted as saying that his pseudonym lets him (or her?) write freely, and really shouldn’t matter if his arguments are solid.

So, who is this masked man? For starters, he’s no “moonbat,” Carr’s favorite term for nutty lefties. Back in 2006, for example, he compared Deval Patrick’s gubernatorial campaign to a cult, and mocked BMG’s editors as part of the “kool-aid left.” That’s Howie Carr–esque. So, careful study of his posts suggests, is EB3’s hatred of elitism, and his deep knowledge of Massachusetts politics and history.

Lest one think this is a Carr-driven publicity stunt, though, there are differences. Carr wasn’t an athlete; EB3’s hockey fixation suggests that he played in his youth. Carr was educated at Deerfield and the University of North Carolina, EB3 has hinted at a Jesuit education. Carr isn’t a law-enforcement basher; EB3 has knocked the Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police, and Suffolk County DA Dan Conley.

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Related: Strange bedfellows, Fourth-estate follies, 2009 edition, Search-term smackdown: Boston rivalries settled with Google Books Ngram Viewer, More more >
  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Deval Patrick, U.S. Government, U.S. State Government,  More more >
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